SINGAPORE - The People's Association (PA) did not reply to my earlier letter which questioned its policy of giving priority to the children of their grassroots volunteers in the Primary 1 registration exercise ("Volunteering should not be about benefits"; April 21).
However, its chief executive director Ang Hak Seng recently announced tweaks to this scheme that, unfortunately, do not address its fundamental problem ("Stricter Primary 1 priority rules for grassroots workers"; yesterday).
Mr Ang states that this scheme is still "relevant" in promoting collaboration between schools and the community, without giving any specifics.
Given that some schools are even discontinuing their priority registration scheme for parent volunteers ("Schools closing door on parent volunteer scheme"; Tuesday), I am curious to know the extent to which the work of PA volunteers specifically benefits schools.
However, my main problem with the PA's scheme bears repeating. Volunteering should not be about chasing after benefits because this does not promote long-term volunteerism. For example, some parents reportedly stop volunteering once their children start primary school. Does the Education Ministry support encouraging such short-sighted volunteerism among our youth by dangling material benefits in front of them?
If this is the case, then, in the interests of fairness and transparency, all citizens who volunteer should also be given priority for their children in the Primary 1 registration exercise.
It should not matter if they are volunteering under the auspices of the PA or with other organisations.
This article was first published on June 13, 2014.
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